My life changed dramatically and forever when I lost TJ.

I welcome you to follow along as I adjust to my "new normal".

It is not all puppies and ice cream but it is my life....real and honest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Isn't There A Cookbook For Life?

If you cook then, like me, you probably have a plethora of cookbooks.  I have 3 cookbooks that are my "go to" books for recipes.  It is those books that I turn to when I am searching for an old family recipe or just want to make some good ole' comfort food like Mom used to make.  The first one I turn to is the book my Mom put together for me with all of her recipes in it.  Most things she made out of her head so some of the recipes are a little sketchy.  Unlike my sister, I cook a lot so I too just know those things that Mom left out.  My sister doesn't, hence why she cooked a pumpkin pie for 4 hours this past year at Thanksgiving.  Pumpkin pies are baked at a high temperature first and then turned down for the remainder of the cooking time.  Evidently Mom left this part out!
The second cookbook I turn to is the one my Mom's sister made for her children and grandchildren.  After much whining (well, not that much) I received one also.  My Aunt Dorothy was a wonderful cook just like my Mom, but they did make some different things.  My Mom didn't make candy, mostly because she was horrible at it, but Aunt Dorothy made some wonderful candy.  Her divinity was to die for and to this day I have failed at divinity every time I have tried to make it.  That non-candy making blood was passed on to me I guess.  My cousin, Leslie, put this book together and it is a work of art without a doubt.  The cabin on the front was built by Uncle Roy.  He was a great carpenter.

(click photo to enlarge)
When all else fails I turn to an old Betty Crocker book that my Mom gave me.  It is worn and tattered, but still has great recipes.

I always have somewhere to turn for just the right recipe for the occasion to make a wonderful meal to be proud of.

It would be so much easier if they made a cookbook for life with recipes telling us exactly what to do.  Maybe I could have found the recipe to cure TJ's cancer in that book.  If not, then maybe I could find the recipe to expedite the grief process.  Throughout my life I have had so many problems that possibly could have been better dealt with had I been able to find the perfect recipe.

But, as many cooks know...It is the recipes you create yourself that are the best.

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking Things For Granted

Every morning when I wake, I put together a mental list of things I am grateful for.  I will admit that some days it is very difficult to come up with even one thing I am grateful for.  Those are the days that I have to ask myself, "is it really that bad Sandy?" My answer is usually, "No, not really, but it will be if you don't get your ass in gear and get to work!"  Probably not what you expected, but it is really what I say to myself sometimes on those days.  So, while I may not come up with something to be grateful for at the moment I am trying to, I do eventually think of something.

I find that on a daily basis we all tend to take so many things for granted.  We let grief, work problems, relationship problems, or money problems overshadow all the good things in our lives.  We focus too much on our daily to do list and anticipating problems we might encounter during our day.  Seriously, who wakes up in the morning and thinks about all the things that could possibly go right during the day?  I know I don't, and I suspect most of you reading this don't either.  If you do, then please let me know as I would love for some of that positive mojo to rub off on me!

Some of the little things we take for granted might be: you can get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other (many can't), you have a job (many don't right now), you have a reliable vehicle to get you to your job or maybe you live close to a bus line, the sun is shining, your computer is working and there is not an IT guy on his way to your home, your spouse / significant other / family / friends are healthy (this is a huge one in my book!).  I could go on and on and I am sure you all could add many things to the list.

I think the most important thing to be grateful for is:  There is somebody, somewhere, that loves you and is there to support you no matter what the day ahead brings.  So, pick up the phone or send a card or email them or text them or Facebook them or tweet them and let them know that they are one of the special people in your life.

There are a lot of things that go right on a day to day basis.  Try to focus on those things instead of what might go wrong and maybe we will all begin to have better days and have an attitude of gratitude.

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  ~ Cynthia Ozick

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Journey

I saw this posted on a fellow widow's blog and just had to steal it to post here.  I relate it to widowhood but I believe it can be about numerous things or even life in general sometimes.  I do not know who the author is otherwise they would be given full credit.  There is not a doubt in my mind that as you read this you will relate it to some point in your life.  You may not relate it as grief, but I think life in general is a series of peak and valleys.  Certain times those peaks are more extreme and the valleys deeper.

"Before we go through a loss like this, we assume that grief is like falling into a deep hole. We think we will start climbing a ladder and as we get closer to the top things start getting brighter and brighter and we keep feeling better and better until we finally step out into the sunshine where the birds are singing and beautiful music is playing and our grief is over and we are then officially “over it”. 

Instead, I have found it is like being plunked down into the middle of a mountain range. We start on the top, with the breathtaking view, when life is wonderful. We are just walking along, basking in the sun and the beautiful scenery when suddenly we fall off a cliff. Now we are lying in a deep, deep valley: bruised, confused, hurt, scared, and lonely. We soon realize that there is no easy way out, no rescue in sight. The only way out is to do it ourselves. So we start working our way up the mountainside, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, and often stumbling. It is very hard, very discouraging, and very exhausting work. Finally we reach the top and see the sun again for a while. Maybe the top will be flat and we’ll get to spend a little time up there enjoying it, or maybe it is very steep and as soon as we get there we have to start back down the other side into the next valley again. 

The one thing we notice is that there are mountains as far as the eye can see. Somehow, we have to make our way through them if we are ever to get out. That thought can be overwhelming and cause us to give up for a while. But eventually we realize once again that the only way out is to keep going, so we start again: down one mountain and up the next. And sometimes on the journey, after a particularly hard stretch, we think, “I’m so glad I finally made it through that.” And then we stop and look around and realize that we’ve been here before! All this work and we’ve gone in a circle and we’re going to have to do it all again! And sometimes as we are climbing, we look up to see if we are getting any closer to the top, and we see a boulder heading our way. If we are fortunate, we manage to avoid it. But usually we can’t, and it hits us head on and sends us tumbling back down to the bottom. 

Sometimes when we are in the deepest part of the valley, we just sit, exhausted. And we might notice some things around us that we never saw before: flowers and animals and a gentle breeze in the cool of the valley. There is a world down in the valley that we never even knew existed, and there is beauty in it. And sometimes at night, when all is quiet, we can hear the others who are in the valley weeping. And it is then that we realize that we are not alone, that others are making this journey too. And we realize that we share an understanding of the journey and of the world of the valley that most others don’t. And it gives us strength to start the climb all over again. 

Sometimes as we are climbing the mountain, a helicopter may come by with some of our friends in it. Seeing us struggling up the mountain, they shout encouraging things like, “I know just what you’re going through; I went on a hike once.” And “at least you have other children to get you through this”  And “You are so strong; I know I couldn’t make this climb.” Or they ask, “When will you finally get over these mountains and be yourself again?” And we try to tell them about the journey and the world of the valley, but the sound of the helicopter drowns us out and they can’t hear us. They throw down some food to give us energy, and it does, but some of it just pelts us on the head and makes the climb even harder. And then they leave, and we breathe a sigh of relief that we can get back to our climb in peace. 

As we make this journey, we start to notice that we are becoming a little bit stronger. When we get to the rough patches we now see that we are shaken but don’t always fall. We find that sometimes we can walk upright now, instead of just crawling. And sometimes we can see a rough spot ahead and manage to find a better way around it. And once in a while we crest a mountain and see that the top is very flat and very beautiful, and we get to spend quite a while resting and recovering on the top before starting down again. And we notice that we are getting closer to the edge of the mountains; they seem to be getting a little smaller. The mountains are not as tall, and the valleys are not as low or as wide. In fact, we can now see the foothills, and it gives us hope. 

And throughout this journey, we see the others who are traveling it as well, sometimes at a distance, and sometimes up close. And we encourage each other to keep going and to watch out for certain things. We talk about the journey and the world of the valley. Finally, someone else who understands! And we cry together when it is just too hard. And sometimes, we catch a glimpse of someone who has made it to the foothills. And we are so excited for them, and we become even more determined to keep going because someday, we too, will make it to the foothills. 

So my point is this: everyone starts on a different mountain. No two journeys are the same. Some people spend a lot of time in the valley at first, and some have more time on top of the mountain. But we will all be both on the mountains and in the valleys. And we will all someday make it to the foothills. I promise."

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. ~ Shantideva

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Want To Go Home

Sometimes I get an overwhelming feeling that I just want to go home.

I had to leave the house TJ & I lived in shortly after his death and lot of things in my life have changed since then.  Not to mention the obvious.  I moved just over a year ago and I think moving was a good thing for me to do.  It was a kind of starting over.  A new house without all the memories hanging over my head and a new start at making new memories.  I have said  before that it was a repo so I have been very busy getting it the way I want it and, in a way, it has been fun.  I like my new house but I am not sure it will ever be home.  I find myself calling it "the house" often instead of home.  I am not sure it will ever be home to me.

Some days I just feel like it isn't real, like I have stepped into another person's life, and I just want to go home.  Home to TJ and back to my old life. Our life was easy and simple, there is nothing about my new life that is easy or simple.  Caring for a house, 1.5 acres and all my animals on my own is hard some days.  In the past I was usually the one to care for the animals, but if I was having a day where I didn't feel like it TJ was always willing to step up and do it for me.  He took care of the yard and all house maintenance.  Now it is all on me to do.  Our 3 dogs are getting older and we would often talk about how hard it was going to be on us to lose them. hard it will be on me.

My life is different now, not bad, just different.

I just want to go home, but I can never go home.

Never again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sad News

It appears to me that one of the baby Doves is not developing proplerly.  My first instinct is to scoop him up, bring him into my home and try to raise him.  However, I know this is not feasible or wise.  I am also a believer in letting nature take its course.  I have to assume there is something wrong with him and nature is weeding out the weak.  It is sad to see him so small and unfeathered compared to his sibling.